Glenn Close, Angela Lansbury, Sierra Boggess, Emily Skinner and More Honor Harold Prince at Star-Studded American Theatre Wing Gala

By Harry Haun
17 Sep 2013

"My other family — my extended family — represent so many of you in this room — so many artists with whom I've worked for six decades. I love to go to work, y'know. I anticipate every day with excitement and every challenge — indeed, some very disappointing ones, but they usually lead to some solution and a measure of genuine satisfaction. I love the company of theatre people. I love working on material with authors and designers. I love casting. I love casting directors. And tonight," he concluded, remembering the market that he was playing to, "I love theatre owners.

"The rehearsal process is pig heaven for me. When a show works, that's divine. When it doesn't, that's instructive and leveling, and it's good for me. I used to worry about the sense of community that I treasured so much in my early years in the theatre. I worry that it'll disappear. As Angie pointed out, I was an assistant stage manager, wannabe producer, slightly older wannabe director, and I worried that this would be jeopardized by escalating costs and merchant mentality. Tonight, however — as much as any night — it's so damned reassuring, and I thank you all for that. I thank all the incredible artists who've shown up tonight to entertain us. Each of them is unique and irreplaceable to me. So thanks to all of them, and thanks to Heather Hitchens, to Ted Chapin, to William Ivey Long, to the Theatre Wing, to all who made this evening possible so the Wing could continue to nourish the American theatre and all those young people who want to be a part of this exciting life."

Prince then sat back and, with the rest of the room, watched his shows, songs and stars pass in review: Sierra Boggess singing "Buenos Aires" from Evita and "Wishing You Were Somewhere Here Again" from The Phantom of the Opera; Emily Skinner singing "Now You Know" from Merrily We Roll Along and "In Buddy's Eyes" from Follies; Richard Kind and Fontana singing "Free" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; LaChanze singing the title song from Cabaret. Jim Wann closed out the music portion of the program with a fitting number: "Mr. Broadway."

There were a number of people in the audience who got their big break from Prince, and one of them made it to the microphone. Glenn Close recalled suddenly being tapped by Prince to replace the (tactfully unnamed) leading lady in Love for Love, slipping into her costume still scented with her perfume and going on without a single understudy's rehearsal simply because Prince believed she could do it.

Charlotte St. Martin and Nick Scandalios, respectively executive director and chairman of The Broadway League, which is partnered with ATW in presenting the Tonys, were prominently present, along with Kim Cattrall, designer-director Tony Walton, journalist Pia Lindstrom, Norm Lewis, an Aladdin trio of stars (Adam Jacobs, Courtney Reed and James Monroe Iglehart) and producer-director Sheldon Epps.

Among the couples in attendance: Broadway-bound Patrick Stewart and brand-new bride Sunny Ozell, photographer Nathan Johnson and his Cinderella Laura Osnes, producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley and Rebecca Luker and Danny Burstein.

The Tony winners who were in attendance included Alan Cumming, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jim Dale, Judy Kaye, Shuler Hensley and composer Charles Strouse.

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La Chanze and Norm Lewis
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN